It comes as news to no one that Instagram moved towards an algorithm-based newsfeed last week (just as big brother Facebook did a few years back). The social network is culling branded content (among other content) and serving you the images it feels you care about most (such a thoughtful algorithm).
The reaction from some has been…emotional.
But as Facebook’s strangle hold on a social advertising and content gets stronger the implications on creative marketing aren’t great.
Who killed creative social content?
Organic content was ultimately the great leveller – the democratic way of deciding whether marketing content was good or not. If you served up a dud, your followers/fans would let you know with their indifference – and vice versa. But as the model shifted towards pay-to-play, brands realized they could move the needle just as effectively with lacklustre or – dare I say – lazy content. You would get eyeballs regardless of how clever, creative or exciting your content was.
When Instagram launched its paid platform a few months back, I’ll bet you started seeing that indifference throughout your newsfeed. Unappealing ads, boring visuals, irrelevant brands asking you to buy their product sandwiched between your friends images can make for a jarring experience.
For some, it’s an either/or decision – you’re stuck allocating budget to either creative or paid promotion. For most eyeballs win out over quality when they’re forced to choose.
So as social channels start strong-arming paid content into your feed, are they actually doing a bigger disservice to the end user experience or are they effectively sheltering users from a tsunami of branded content?
Either way, they don’t seem to be promoting a culture of creative content.